Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Rising Dead (2007)

After a virus causes people to turn into zombies, survivors attempt to get to a military installation to hold out for a cure.  Our hero Mr. Blake was in special forces and is tasked with protecting the Presidents family, including the annoying first lady, little girl Treasure, and crippled son Gabriel.

One the way to military location, their plane crashes and splits in two.  Those who survive the crash must follow Mr. Blake and try to get to safety before the zombies kill them.

The characters aren't very bright.  The kids end up wandering off on their own, which is especially dangerous since one is crippled.  Think kids, think!  The annoying first lady wanders off and leaves Treasure alone, which makes her a particularly bad mother since it is the zombie apocalypse.  And at one point, the first lady even falls into a huge opening on the top of a building. How could she possibly miss that? Oh wait, she's not very bright.

The same zombies keep chasing them and zombie footage is repeated.  The zombies have grease paint faces, bright red blood, and there CGI head shots.  At one point Mr. Blake gets his hand cut off. There is no blood and he barely reacts.  The first lady helps him tie if off and they're back on the run - and I mean that literally.  The guy is running.

Exposition is provided via voice over that has an echo effect, and is often louder than the dialogue. So you'll be turning the volume up and down.  The zombies are also often louder than the dialogue.  There  appear to be tons of post production as there are effects on almost every scene.

Did I mention this is a Cousin Brothers Production?  Well you'll want to be aware of that.  Because  when there is a shot of the moon or a black screen to transition between scenes, you can see a ghost shadow of A Cousin Brothers Production on the screen.  Did they do that on purpose, or accidentally burn it into the film?

Also the credits betray why this production may have run off the tracks.  Here's a run down of what  Cousins was credited for:
  • producer
  • story 
  • screenplay
  • cinematographer
  • editor
  • special digital visual effects
  • prop design 
  • casting
  • location scouting
  • set design
  • audio
A one man production can give you exactly what you want your vision to be, but that's not always a good thing.  Next time you may want to involve someone you trust whose willing to provide constructive criticism.

I applaud the effort of any independent filmmaker who can actually get their movie made.  It definitely takes dedication and hard work. But that doesn't mean your movie is good.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Near Death (2004)

One of my observations about movies is that if there are boobs before the credits, you know you're in trouble. So I knew I was in for a long haul on this one.

June, a professor of the occult, along with her assistants Tammy and Billy head to the mansion of Willie von Brahm to investigate stories of it being haunted.  Von Brahm was a movie director who took his own life after his girlfriend dumped him.

The three arrive with suitcases in hand prepared to stay for the weekend. But the person who answers the door has no idea who they are.  Tammy says she sent a letter detailing their intent to stay there, but never got a response. "Didn't you get it?" she inquires.  Are you kidding me?  Someone slap some sense into that girl.  This does not bode well for her investigative prowess.

The host proves to be not your normal person when he says "It appears we have not choice but to let these people stay."  What? Okay, this is also not a good sign.

They're shown to their rooms but told not to leave the room after midnight. Since they are doing paranormal research, they aren't amused.

Billy has invented a specter alert that flashes on the computer if a ghost is near.  I'm wondering how he confirmed that this program works.

Professor June is working on a book about ghost. Tammy was the one who recommended investigating this house.  But once there she gets mad and says she doesn't care about the book or research as she's not there to work.  Confusing? Yes.  After there are some strange occurrences, June and Billy want to leave, but Tammy wants to stay. More confusing? Of course.  Once again paranormal investigators try to confirm supernatural activity and then want to leave when something happens.

The audio has a lot of ambient noise in it, and there is a bad alt rock soundtrack.  The background sounds, music and sound effects are often mixed just as loud as the dialogue.  The effects are bad and so is the acting. The acting is about at community theater level and seems like they're playing for the back of the room.  Dr. Blanchard is particularly bad with a horrible over emphasis on everything he says.

Bad bad, stay away.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Guitar Wolf: Red Idol (2003)

Guitar Wolf are a basic high energy rocknroll band influenced by Link Wray, the Ramones, and 1970s punk.  The leather jacket wearing three piece write catchy, trashy, garage rock.  They may not be the best musicians, but their heart and enthusiasm are everything that real rocknroll should be.  I love this band!

The film is made up of live concert footage, interviews, and videos.  The first few live songs are full of quick cuts and effects. It was so annoying that I almost stopped watching it. Plus it was starting to make me feel slightly motion sick. Thankfully not all the footage is like that.

There are interviews with members of US garage bands who've played with the band or released records by them.  Some of it is pointless, but the Goner records guy is interesting.

There are also interviews with the band.  Stupidly enough, since the first interviews were in English with Japanese subtitles, when the Guitar Wolf interviews came on,  I watched some of them in Japanese before realizing there were probably English subtitles. Duhr.

There are also some videos which I really enjoyed.  This film features the original three piece, (Billy aka Bass Wolf passed away in 2005).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ferocious Planet (2011)

In an attempt to get additional financing to do further work on a project involving parallel universes, an accident occurs and the lab, as well as the observers, are transported to a parallel dimension.  Those that survive realize there is some sort of problem when they find a strange creature in the lab with them.

Upon opening the lab door, the group finds themselves in the middle of a forest and the rest of the building gone.  Their confusion turns to fear when the obnoxious Congressman who they were appealing to for funding is devoured by a rather large dinosaur.  I know a certain scientist who won't be getting their funding.

Differing levels of cranial functioning thin out the surviving members of the group as they try to figure out how to get back to their own dimension.  They need water to work the machine, but there is no water in the lab since it was ripped off the main building and transported to dinosaur-ville.  Surprisingly this didn't affect the electricity as the lab's lights still work.

People bicker and split up, dinosaurs chase them, idiots grab dino eggs for souvenirs, and everyone repeatedly talks about how they have to get out of there.  Somehow the scientist and her assistant know that they only have six hours before the alignment of the parallel universe shifts, shutting the door between the two.  How would they know that? It's not like they even realized they could get into a parallel dimension.

Also our hero has point ears and it's really distracting.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bad Dreams (1988)

Franklin Harris, leader of the Unity Cult, decides to pull a Jonestown and pours gasoline over the cult members heads.  Everyone sits calmly awaiting their fiery death to bring them to salvation, except for teenaged Cynthia who is not so sure this is a good idea.

Cynthia, who ends up being the only survivor, wakes from a coma thirteen years later.  Luckily her muscle tone is still fantastic, not like those other lazy coma patients.

In order to get her accustomed to the changes in the world and bring her up to date on the 1980s, her doctor puts her in a group therapy session.  This might be a good idea except the therapy group is for people with personality disorders which seems odd since Cynthia was part of a hippy cult and has amnesia.

When members of her group start dying, Cynthia is convinced that it's cult leader Harris (played by Richard Lynch) whose come back because she didn't keep her promise.  She believes that Harris will continue to take those close to her until she joins him in death.  She sees him in the hallways and her room - sometimes as he was but other times as a gooey bloody mess.

Young Dr. Karman seems unnaturally interested in Cynthia, but doesn't believe her story about Harris.  He does however decide to keep her company at night to make sure she's not scared. Oh yes, there's nothing at all a creepy or overly friendly about a doctor relating to their newly coma-free  attractive female patient by keeping a special eye on her and leaning over her with arms on either side of her while she's in bed.

Richard Lynch plays the cult leader Harris. I always liked Lynch. He's good at being menacing. There is a twist ending that isn't that original but I didn't expect it. And while Dr. Karmen is supposed to be a good guy, he repeatedly violates medical ethics on interacting with patients.  At one point in a fit of anger he even gulps down a patients drugs that he happened to have in his shirt pocket.  Get a grip, man! You can't fall in love with a patient you've only known for a short time who has amnesia and believes she's seeing a dead cult leader!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dead in Three Days (2006)

After a group of friends graduate from high school, they each receive a text which says they'll be dead in three days.  No one pays much attention to it since it's from an unknown number and all they care about is the graduation party that night.

They arrive at the party, which is massive, and have a great time.  Then Martin leaves to find a restroom and mysteriously disappears.  When he doesn't come back, his friends go looking for him and find his phone on the restroom floor. But there is no other sign of him.

When they go to the Police to report Martin missing, they are treated to a typical horror movie police response which is never take kids seriously, especially if they report worries of impending or recent peril.

The next day Martin is found dead and the police feel kind of bad about it. Soon the kids realizes that each one of them received the same threatening text message.  And wouldn't you now it, someone else is about to be killed.  It's an okay movie but nothing special.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Home Sweet Home (1981)

A couple goes to visit family for Thanksgiving, but an escaped lunatic ends up at the isolated  - isn't it always - family home and starts killing anyone he can get his hands on, which is pretty much everyone.

Luckily none of the characters are particularly engaging, and some are downright irritating, so we're not sad.  Then again, the killer is a body building, lunkhead who breathes heavily and giggles incessantly.  And did I mention that there's a talking mime that plays guitar and does magic?

The most irritating character is Mistake, the annoying mime son of the guy who owns the house.  I'm still not sure exactly how everyone else fit into this group, but there definitely was at least one family which included the patriarch, his girlfriend, and Mistake.

Not only is Mistake incredibly annoying for the viewer, but even the other characters hate him.  His face is painted like a mime.  He has an amp strapped to his back so he can walk around while playing his electric guitar.  His t-shirt has a chain design on it, as well as a rip that is held together with a safety pin. 

Mistake is constantly being chased around due to his highly irritating personality.  When he is chased through the house by a guest, he runs straight into his dad's bedroom just as dad and his girlfriend are starting to get busy. This causes Mistake to shout, "It's my lucky day!" which is horrifying and confusing since for most people catching their parents in a state of undress is their absolute nightmare.

Characters keep going out on errands and never come back.  But does anyone worry?  Nope, they just keep on cooking the turkey and eventually sit down to dinner with half the characters missing in action.

Oh, Home Sweet Home, you are an interesting little movie - part boredom and part what the hell....?! The serial killer is played by Jake Steinfeld better known as the Body by Jake guy.

The original artwork for the VHS was cool, but now it's got this crappy generic cover which isn't going to make anyone pick it up.  I hate it when they update the covers of old movies to try to appeal to the next generation.  Bah!  Stop misleading everyone with your boring new covers!

Well how much can you expect from a movie that
opens with this guy alone in a station wagon asking,
"Hey, wanna beer?"  Needles to say the killer doesn't.
Tony Orlando is pissed.
I hate the sun visors.
The aptly named Mistake. 
Half the Thanksgiving guests have disappeared? Let's eat!
 No one notices the little girl on the left appears to be
passed out, head down on the table.
ACT-ing!  Ladies and Gentlemen, your killer!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Splinter (2008)

Polly and Seth are celebrating their anniversary by going on a little camping trip when they are carjacked by convict Dennis and his girlfriend Lacey.  Dennis forces the couple to drive and Polly hits something in the road, which upon further investigation is an animal infected with the splinter parasite.

The group makes a quick getaway to a nearby gas station where they get trapped by the growing parasite and must figure out how to work together to survive.

Seth has a PhD in biology, and has a theory about what is happening.  Along with being a biologist, he is also an embarrassment of a boyfriend. He can't drive a stick, set up a tent, change a tire, or even make any attempt to protect his girlfriend from an armed convict.  Not that you need to be able to do any of that to be a man (well you should protect the woman), but it is remarkable how amazingly Seth fails at everything in a spectacular, sniveling, fraidy cat way.  There is a reason he gets no respect from anyone.

Overall it was entertaining even though you'll want to kick Seth's ass, and you very easily could.  Every time I look at the dvd cover, the guy on the left reminds me of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. I think it's partly the spiky parasite at his hairline, the icy scratches on the door by his chin, and the door handles which resemble claws if you're not looking right at them and think it's Wolverine.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hellgate (1990)

Legend has it that the ghost town owners daughter Josie (who runs like a newborn calf) was killed by bikers.  This made her father hate strangers, which is bad news since he runs a tourist attraction ghost town.  Perhaps he should have just hated bikers?

The old caretaker finds a crystal in the mine that shoots lasers and gives it to Josie's father.  Her father uses it to bring dead animals back to life and mutate living animals.  The problem with this - other than the obvious - is that they explode.  Since there doesn't seem to be any explanation for why the animals explode but Josie doesn't, there is exposition simply stating that the laser has been perfected.

Thirty years later some friends on a vacation run into the ghost late at night on a lonely road, and drive her home to the ghost town.  She invites Matt, played by Ron "Horshack" Palillo, into her home and leads him up to the bedroom.  Then the viewer is presented with the most awkward love scenes ever recorded.  Horschack should definitely not be kissing girls.

Many things are not explained, like why is the zombie biker working at the garage?  How did a girl who died in the 1950s get a Glamor Shot photo?  Is this a parallel universe where Horshack is a chick magnet? And most importantly, why does the fake ghost town have a real cemetery?

This is a confusing mess of a movie.  But it's so ridiculous that I found it amusing.  The funniest part?  The crane shot of the ghost town reveals it is just a facade!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Skeleton Key 2: 667 Neighbor of the Beast (2008)

Don't be fooled by the cover art and the name of the film.  It's not a sequel to the Kate Hudson movie, The Skeleton Key.  This is a god awful hand held video cam production that looks like a bunch of friends filmed themselves and decided to call it a movie.

It is unwatchable.  We couldn't take more than ten minutes of it, and even that amount of time was painful.   The movie has some twenty something guy talking in an affected high pitched voice.  He was super annoying and we hated him.  To make matters worse, this movie clocks in at around two hours.  Avoid this one at all costs.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sand Shark (2012)

Oh no!  What's that swimming through the sand?  It can't be one of those prehistoric sand sharks.  Not on the weekend of spring break during the island's music festival that the mayor's son Jimmy is putting on so he can pay off his debts and not get whacked.  Oh yes, it is!

Earthquake opens fissure in ocean which releases prehistoric creature known for swimming in sand - which makes you wonder why it was released under the ocean, but there you go. Sand shark.

This is kind of like a cross between Tremors, Jaws, Piranha, and Blood Beach - haven't actually seen Blood Beach, but they both feature something under the sand sucking people down into the dirt.  Um, except it's nowhere near as good and will not in anyway imitated and enjoyed for years to come.

Of special note is the semi man-sized Brooke Hogan as Dr. Sandy Powers, shark scientist and expert. Oh please.....  It's awkward to watch her pretend to be a brainy scientist.  But it's even more awkward to see her offering her hand to the Sheriff to help him up on rocks.  Uh yes, nothing emasculates you more than the manly girl taking on the typical masculine role of protecting the love interest. Not that a female can't kick ass, but the gender subtexts seem to be really off here.

The festival is amusing. The crowd shots are close up of about twenty people and you can tell there's no one else behind them.  At one point the Sheriff runs through the crowd which is strategically placed because otherwise he'd be able to easily get around them. Sometimes they pan out more so you can see hardly anyone is on the beach.

Don't know if this was a Syfy channel movie, but it fits right in with their stuff.  I definitely like the idea of sand sharks but  - and this should go without saying - if Brooke Hogan is one of your leads, it can't be that great a movie.

Best line:
"You're going to need a bigger beach."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rocknroll Frankenstein (1999)

A scientist, whose experiments are funded by his sleazy music agent uncle, procures the best body parts of fantastic musicians to make the ultimate performer.  His grave robbing sidekick digs up body parts from Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon, and Elvis, to name a few.

But when they decide to steal Jim Morrison's naughty bits, an accident right out of Young Frankenstein destroys their target  and they grab the closest member which turns out to be from Liberace.  Oh no, what will Frankenstein do?  His brain says girls, but his sex drive says boys.

Not as good as it should have been, but not as bad as it could be. It's okay and there are some laughs, but I wouldn't watch it again.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Beneath the Darkness (2011)

One night Travis, Abby, Brian and Danny see a silhouette of a dancing woman in the second story of the small town funeral home, which is also the home of the mortician, Vaughn Ely.  But Ely has lived alone since his wife died tragically a few years earlier.

There are rumors that the house is haunted. The kids argue as to whether they've seen a ghost or something else.  But the one thing they agree on is that the lady moves very oddly.

The next night they head over the the funeral home to try to see the ghost up close.  Ely's van isn't there so they decide to break in and go upstairs to try to locate the woman or ghost they saw.  Travis doesn't think they should break in, so he stays outside to be the look out in case Ely comes back.  What the kids don't realize is that Ely's van is in the shop for repairs.

When Ely catches them in the house, a murder occurs.  But Ely is a well respected man in town and sympathy is on his side due to the break in.  So no one will listen to the kids when they say Ely is lying.  Now they're scared of what he will do to the rest of them, especially since no one will believe that their charming, handsome mortician is not a kind, good hearted man.

I was expecting more from this.  It never really provides the tension that these situations should give the viewer.  Also I can see wanting to investigate the local funeral home to see if there are ghosts, but to break in puts it in a different place altogether, especially because it's also his home.  And the cops in this town are just plain useless.

From Justin to Kelly (2003)

While on spring break, Justin pursues Kelly and hijinx ensue.  This is a cliche from beginning to end, and may as well be called Saved By the Bell: The Musical.  Three guys, three girls, spring break, attraction, misunderstanding, jealousy, missed opportunity, fear of rejection, realization of the truth, resolution. The End.

The story has been told before and done better.  The worst parts are the idiot jock white boy who thinks he can rap and Kelly's wardrobe, especially the skirt made out of ties.

Even though this was awful, when looking it up on IMDB, I was excited to see a movie list entitled "Disappointing, Dull, and Dumb Movies."  I'm certainly going to look at that because it will probably be more interesting than this movie.  But I have a horrible feeling that I'll end up renting something on that list because it sounds so terrible.... which is exactly why I watched this. Not a good move on my part.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Southern Gothic (2007)

Fortune, an alcoholic bounder at an adult club, protects the girls from the various creeps that go there, including local Preacher Pitt.  When new girl Starla takes Pitt to a private booth, Fortune has to rescue her and evict Pitt from the bar.

Later that night Pitt is attacked by a vampire and it's trouble for everyone in the small town, especially those who have wronged him.

William Forsythe is Preacher Pitt, but he doesn't have a lot to work with here. There's not much excitement or tension, but you don't hate the characters. It's okay if you stumble across it on tv.

My favorite part was in the Extras where they showed how they did the mirror exploding into Pitt's face.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lovers Lane (2000)

Thirteen years ago on Valentines Day a deranged man with a hook killed a couple at lovers lane.  Cut to the present day, and the hook handed lunatic has escaped from the asylum after writing the chilling message, "Prison food sucks" on the wall of his cell.

A group of high school students decide to have their own party rather than attend the school's annual Valentines dance. Chloe, recently jilted by Michael and really pissed off about it, gets Michael's friend Doug to drive Michael up to lovers lane to catch her in the act with his other friend Brad.  Since Doug is the ride for everyone else going to the party, they all end up at the isolated make out spot.  Good god!  That means everyone is at lovers lane on the 13th anniversary of the murders and the killer's on the loose!  What could possibly happen now?

There is an animosity between Michael and Mandy that is never explained.  They each lost one parent in the Valentine murders, and it's rumored that they were cheating on their spouses.  Mandy doesn't believe the rumors. Michael was told his father died from a heart attack and has never even heard the rumors.  So it's not clear why they  avoid each other.

The ending is so random and convoluted, what with multiple hooks, that even the surviving characters have to ask questions to explain this mess.  You'd figure a killer with a hook would be terrifying, but he's more boring than anything else.  And why does no one ever hold out a block of wood when someone with a hook slashes at you?  Once that hook sinks into the wood, all he could do was clunk you on the head, rather than rip out your insides.

And is it ever a good idea to try to defend yourself by grabbing four knives?  They're difficult to hold all at once, you look ridiculous, and it would be hard to hold them all and effectively use them.

You'll do a double take at the principal as she sometimes wears an obvious wig.  Also Dr. Grefe is playing by the same guy who was Les Nessman on WKRP in Cincinnati.

The only reason to watch this one is that you've seen the other Valentine slashers as this is pretty dull.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Christina's House (2000)

Christina lives in a huge old rented home on the edge of town with her little brother and father.  Dad works two jobs, brother is into video games, Mom is in an Asylum, the handyman is always working on the house, and Christina has a new older boyfriend who wants to give her some sexual healing.

Christina keeps hearing odd noises in the house.  The handyman thinks it may be mice or just the house settling, but he looks into it to put her mind at ease.  Still things appear, disappear and then reappear, which makes Christina nervous, although no one else seems to notice.

When the body of a classmate is found in the stream in front of her house, the police start suspecting something is going on involving the family or her hotheaded boyfriend.  There have been other disappearances in the area, and the strange noises make Christina feel the house has taken on a more ominous tone.

This is not a low budget movie, but it's slow on the thrills and the policeman is unnecessarily suspicious. If I was flipping channels and stumbled across this, I might watch it if nothing else was on (I have basic cable so there's a good chance it would be the best thing out of the 25 channels I get).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jack O'Lantern (2004)

Jack returns to his family's farm after spending months in a coma due to a car crash that killed his father.  He wanders around wearing a winter hat and doesn't talk.  His slack jawed expression never changes and the only emotion he conveys is duhrrrrr.

A mystery man leaves a pumpkin on his front porch and Jack decides to carve it.  When he sticks the knife in, it oozes blood.  Stupid old Jack just keeps carving and wipes blood all over himself, mouth hanging agape as usual.

Soon all of Jack's old friends are being killed by a monster with green monster vision. Does the killing have anything to do with the secret they're keeping?  You bet your sweet bippy, it does.

There are lots of scenes in this movie that have no bearing on the rest of the film, such as when Brett and Billy go to a car dealership.

Also one character Chris completely changes her look and name halfway through the film. I wasn't sure if it was even the same character.  They've called her Chris and then all of a sudden start calling her Christine.  Her hairstyle is completely different, and she has different makeup.  It's even more confusing as they implied ten minutes earlier that she had killed herself.  (Holding a gun, freaked out, appears suicidal, cut to her friend and there is a gunshot off screen).  Nope, she's not dead.  They just totally changed her whole look and started calling her Christine so that you get really confused and wonder if it's the same girl.  The only way I could tell was her strange eyebrows.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Jackhammer Massacre (2004)

After his friend Mike introduces him to drugs, Jack loses his fancy job, home, car, and life.  He spends his days lifting weights that are way too heavy for him, taking drugs, and hanging out with the neighborhood skank.  When Mike od's, Jack continues his drug consumption at an ever increasing rate which leads to an inability to pay his dealer.

In an attempt to get money to pay off his debt and avoid death, Jack gets a job as night janitor in a warehouse.  The janitor market must be depleted if this dirt caked loser seemed like a viable option.  Were there no other applicants?

Not only does Jack work there, but he moves in and sleeps on a mattress that might just be filthier than he is.  His dealer and a  flunky show up one night, beat the hell out of him, and inject him with a massive overdose.  Wouldn't that mean the dealer is out more money?

Instead of killing Jack, the overdose turns him into a lunatic who  starts seeing the ghost of his dead friend. Jack grabs the closet thing available which is a conveniently plugged in jackhammer and takes out his insanity on the dealer and his flunky.

The next day a potential buyer comes to the warehouse.  You'd think the owner would be a little more careful who he hires.  Jack would not be a good person for a buyer to run into on the property, even before he became a hallucinating homicidal maniac, which he is for the rest of the movie. Hurrah!

Jack isn't much of a threat when you realize he only kills people who wander into the warehouse.  I think that means that 99.9% of the free world has nothing to worry about as far as Jack is concerned. Just don't go into that warehouse.

Also the jackhammer is plugged in, yet none of the victims make any attempt to unplug it or run beyond the reach of the plug.

There are so many things in this movie that scream gay porn:  the tight tank tops; the muscles, gold chains and blow dry hairstyles; the shirtless guy with his pants slung low; the arm wound that resembles a scrotum; and the jackhammer thrusting into a mans mouth.

I knew this movie would be trouble when the description on the DVD box had a line that said, "Jack also believes that the DEA and other supernatural authorities are out to kill him."  Uhhh, since when is the DEA a supernatural entity?

Cliche dialogue:

  • "Don't you die on me!"
  • "Okay, this is not supposed to be happening."
  • "I need you. Don't give up on me."

Most ridiculous line:

"Who is it? Are you supposed to be here?" said to dirty, greasy guy with insane eyes holding a jackhammer and wearing a shirt covered in blood

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Force of One (1979)

After several undercover officers are murdered by a kung fu  killer, the Chief decides his undercover team needs to learn how to protect themselves.  And what better way to ensure their safety than hiring the best martial arts instructor in town to teach them some karate?

Matt Logan grudgingly agrees to help.  He's hesitant as they aren't interested in the philosophical teachings, just the chop socky.  Matt runs a school and his son Charlie helps out. He's raised Charlie since the poor kid was orphaned at a young age. Oh man... Charlie's an orphan?  You just know he's gonna die.

When Matt falls for undercover lady cop Mandy, I feared for her safety as well. Nothing gets a good man who knows martial arts into killing mode like someone maiming his loved ones.

While the police meet with varying degrees of success, Matt romances Mandy, and trains for his big fight with Sparks, a fellow Special Forces Vet.  But is there a traitor in the police department?  Will any of Chuck's proteges survive till the end of the film?  And what about poor orphaned Charlie who rebels against Chuck when he says he isn't ready for a big fight?

Chuck Norris and his massive mustache star, along with Bill Wallace and Clu Gulager.

V/H/S (2012)

Some a-holes are hired to steal a video tape from a house that is empty, except for perhaps a caretaker somewhere inside.  But if he's there, he's asleep so as long as they don't wake him up, they'll be fine.

The house is mostly empty but they aren't sure which room the tape is in. When they stumble across a bunch of tapes, they realize they don't know how to identify the one they're supposed to steal.  So they pop some of the tapes into the VCR in the house to watch them which provides us with the thread that keeps this anthology rolling.

I know a lot of people thought this was one of the best movies of the year, but it just didn't work for me.  The main characters are horrible people that you want to die.  Even the characters in each segment of the anthology are awful people.  The only decent human beings in the whole movie are in the last story where they accidentally end up at the wrong house for a party.  So basically we wanted everyone dead except for those in the last story.

Here's a breakdown of the hideous people you'll meet in these stories:
  1. college guys pick up some girls at a bar and take them back to their hotel with plans to secretly tape their sexual encounters with them
  2. someone is stalking a couple on vacation
  3. friends take a trip to a lake where one was traumatized by murders that took place years ago
  4. a girl and her boyfriend who lives in another town talk via a web cam and discuss the spooky  happenings in her apartment
  5. college friends go to a Halloween party but end up at the wrong address 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Grudge 3 (2009)

Picking up where the second movie left off, the only survivor is killed by the ghost while in police custody.  Somehow news travels to Japan where Naoko hears of it and heads to the US to try to stop the curse.

The building is being renovated.  Siblings Max (who manages the building), Lisa, and Rose are some of the tenants that inhabit the building and are now fodder for our long haired ghost and her pale little friend.  Since there aren't many people around, you already know that Lisa's boyfriend and the artist up stairs are going to get grudged. There's no one else in the building.

I haven't seen the other Grudge movies.  So at first I got this confused with the Ring - spooky Asian ghost with long hair covering her face? Yup.

Why would a doctor show confidential medical records and video of a recently deceased patient to an unrelated teenager she'd met only once before?  If you see a creepy little boy with a ghostly pallor in a mostly empty building and you know he doesn't live there since your brother manages the place, plus your neighbors were recently murdered, why would you be so cavalier about it?

How did this curse get to the US and attach itself to this particular building?  And if you see hair growing out a of photo and some unknown entity leaves red hand prints on the ground heading towards you, why would you not get up after you trip and fall over backwards?

And if you knew there was a spooky ghost in the building who you'd seen kill people and possess others, why wouldn't you want to perform a ritual on the off chance that you would stop the curse and save your family?  Because you're surely going to die unless something can stop this creature and you're clueless.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Tunnel (2011)

In Sydney, Australia the government decides to use the cities underground tunnels to recycle water, but there is conflict as the tunnels are a refuge for the homeless.  The government aren't concerned with that issue, but then all of a sudden the plan is abandoned.

Journalist Natasha Wagner wonders why the story was dropped by the politicians, but no one will talk about it.  She finds video on YouTube of teenagers in the tunnels who discover there is something down there.  Also there are lots of stories about the disappearance of homeless people living in the tunnels.  The government won't acknowledge this mystery either.

Natasha decides she wants to get to shoot some footage in the tunnels, but no one will grant her permission to film or provide any access.  So she and her film crew consisting of cameraman Steve, sound man Tangles and supervisor Pete find a way in through a loosely padlocked access tunnel.

They wander deeper and deeper into the maze of tunnels, and even go down levels underground.  When shooting the last segment, Tangles goes into a different room since the sound where they're filming is too loud.  While they're doing the segment, there is a scream and Tangles disappears.

The group searches for Tangles and is divided on whether to leave to get help or keep searching because they don't want to leave Tangles alone in the tunnels.  Then they discover that something is definitely down there with them.

I am always up for POV/found footage movies, even though I think 95% of them are horrible, what  with their shaky cameras and scripts that appear to be improvised by actors who are incapable of improvising any interesting dialogue. The characters did not make me hate them, which is unusual for POV movies.

Although there were a few times when Natasha's screaming was annoying.  For example, if you manage to get away from some thing that is chasing you, don't scream at the top of your lungs in panic.   I get that it is a natural reaction to being trapped, but it is god damn annoying to have to sit through this while watching a movie.  So though repeated screaming in fear is realistic, it drives me freakin' nuts.

Also another movie where you want to scream, "don't give the hysterical lady the phone!" She can't even tell the operator where they are.

While I thought oh good god no when the movie started, it was actually one of the better POV movies.  It's almost more a of a pseudo documentary since it's made up of POV footage, surveillance footage, YouTube style videos, and interviews with survivors.  And since they're supposed to be a film crew, there's not as much horrible handheld nausea inducing camera work as these films often have.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Scary or Die (2012)

The description we saw said it was about a clown that mauls someone. Sounds great! So imagine our surprise when it starts with someone going a web site called scary or die and clicks on a video which has nothing to do with clowns. Huh? Wait... is this an anthology?  Because I would hope that would be in the description so we wouldn't be stuck watching a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with rampaging clowns. Aw, damn it!

There are five segments held together by scenes of a hand holding a mouse and a computer screen with choices of videos to click on.  The characters in the videos overlap, tenuously connecting each story line.

Here's a basic description of each segment:

  1. red necks kidnap Mexicans, and bring them back to the border with deadly intentions
  2. depressed man saves woman from being murdered by stranger and gets invited to a 1am party at her house - note: nothing good ever happens at parties that start that late
  3. guy with body in trunk gets pulled over by police
  4. clown bites man who develops a bad limp, refuses to get any medical treatment even though the bite keeps getting worse, and he begins turning into a creepy clown
  5. abused woman comes back for revenge
There's nothing new here unless you are new to horror films.  In fact, a couple of the stories are so cliche that it's irritating to see the resolution.  Word of advice- if your zombie movie ends with the last survivor being mistaken for a zombie by gun toting zombie squads, then you need to start over.  

This leads us to the clown story, which is the longest story of the bunch.  There's one major problem with it.  After the attack, the police ask for the name of the clown, and the family just shrugs and looks blank.  Seriously?  What sort of lunatic hires a random unknown clown for a childs birthday party?    Where'd they find him?  They don't know his clown name or his real name.  They have no contact info for him.  They know nothing about him.  He looked creepy as hell and acted super weird.  Sure, sounds like the perfect guy to be near a group of young children.  Good god movie, I just can't get past this.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Truth of Dare: Critical Madness (1986)

Mike has a great life. He just got a promotion, loves his wife, and has a nice home.  But when he comes home unexpectedly in the middle of the day, he finds his wife in bed with his best friend Jerry.  Mike is not amused.  To make matters worse, his wife tells him it's over and she wants to be with Jerry.

As Mike aimlessly drives around to a synthesizer soundtrack, he flashes back to all the signs that his wife was having an affair. Then he picks up a young hitchhiker and decides to take her camping.

They build a fire and start playing the stupidest game of truth or dare ever.  The game escalates to the girl daring Mike to cut off his finger, stab himself in the chest, and rip out his own tongue.  After he does all this it becomes clear that not only is Mike insane, but the hitchhiker is only in his warped mind.

After a stint at the Sunnyvale Insane Asylum, Mike is released due to budget cuts. Yay! Oddly enough he seems to have his tongue and finger again.

Right out the door, it's obvious that Mike is still nuts.  After getting revenge on his ex and Jerry, he's back in the asylum where he manages to play truth or dare with the inmates. After daring an inmate to  blow his head off with a grenade, Mike cuts up his own face.

Later he escapes while wearing a gold mask he made in the asylum metal shop. Because it's always a good idea to let the insane violent inmates work with hot metal, fire and tools that could crack a skull. As Mike drives around I worried about his lack of peripheral vision due to the obstruction from that stupid mask.  Since Mike already had his revenge, there's nothing left to do but to kill everyone he can get his hands on.

The movie is terrible, but I'll give the filmmaker credit. If you watch the extras, you'll hear that he was six months out of high school when he got a $200K deal to make this movie.  Pretty impressive, even if the movie is crap.  A young AJ from the Backstreet Boys plays Mike as a kid.  The end theme song is incredibly bad.
This is how a maniac looks when he's surprised
Fish tank vision
If your wife looks this disinterested when you
profess your love to her, you've got a big problem.
The incredible prison mask. My god, he drove
while wearing this!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Evidence of a Haunting (2010)

Styled after the typical crop of recent ghost hunting shows, The Supernatural Phenomenon Research Society (SPRS) investigate reports on paranormal activity.  The group covers three cases, has show meetings and POV footage of the investigations.  Plus there is a long throwaway scene of them socializing in a bar on their night off.

The first case involves child possession.  The problem with this is that no one has topped Linda Blair since the Exorcist.  But a plus is that the child's headboard is a picket fence, so it's extremely convenient to tie down the possessed child.

The next case of a father with two young daughters who are plagued by a spirit in their house is easily resolved. The children have recently acquired what investigators call the most dangerous type of Ouija board, a hand carved one.  The only way to rid yourself of this Ouija spirit is to mail it to someone else and once they play it, the ghost is theirs.  Really?  I'm not up on the ways of the Ouija but it sounds like a long shot.

If you feel it's wrong to send the cursed thing to some unsuspecting soul, then the only other way to get rid of it is to chop it into seven pieces and burn it.  I kept expecting some sort of resistance, but they disposed of it quickly and I found myself thinking, what? That's it?

Their big case, which takes up half the film, is an investigation into tunnels under a University.  Over the years many people have gone into the tunnels, gotten lost, starved to death, or were never seen again.

The group goes into lock down to start their investigation.  They hear strange sounds and have contact with the ghost of a small boy.  They also come up with the theory that the tunnels are holding cells for hell controlled by the son of Satan bwahahaha!  Okay, sure. And unlike ghost hunting shows, things do not end up as well for our intrepid team of explorers.

They use the ultra sketchy ghost box which modulates am/fm frequencies.  I find this thing to be utterly ridiculous as a ghost hunting tool.  If it's picking up different radio frequencies, you're just hearing words off the radio.

And yes, cameraman Tor's full name is Tor Johnson, a nod to the actor of Ed Wood movie fame.  But unlike the cool Tor, this one wears an annoying hat at a jaunty angle, making me want to knock the damn thing off his head.  Also Shelly looks like a cross between Jennifer Aniston and Sarah Jessica Parker.  You can decide for yourself if that is a good thing.

How convenient that her head board is a picket fence.
But maybe they shouldn't have given her so much rope. 
Pretending it's the horror version of Friends 
Someone please slap that carefully placed hat off his head. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Legion of the Dead (2005)

A professor and some students go to a top secret archaeological dig site where a mummy's tomb has been uncovered. Now you'd expect this to be in Egypt, but oh no my friend, it's in California.  There is some lame explanation involving banishment and sailing across the ocean during mummy times to try to explain this peculiarity, but I'm not buying it.

The tomb has cement floors, the walls have hieroglyphics that look like they were done by junior high school art students, and the bottom of the walls appears to be wainscoting that resembles a picket fence painted red and blue with some stars at the top in some kind of bad shabby chic decor.

Molly is invited to the dig by the professor, and shows up without bringing a change of clothes. Huh? Her little sister drives out the next day, but won't arrive till late morning.  So Molly lets the professor know she'll have to come in late. Seriously?  She can't wear the same clothes for a half a day?  It's not like any of her  clothing is appropriate for a dig. Her sister brings her short shorts, and off the shoulder shirts.

When the Mummy comes back to life, she takes over one of the people on the dig to help get minions to perform ritual. Oh no!  This leads me to wonder how many mummys do you need to qualify as a legion?  I hope it's six because that's all she has.  Pretty soon mummies are showing up in the most unlikely of places, including their motel.

Funniest moment in the film is when the lady mummy comes back to life and wanders into Molly's hotel room.  Molly, who is fluent in many languages, tries to determine her native tongue by asking  questions in different languages, while her younger sister stares at them.  When Molly desperately tries the language of ancient Egypt and the lady responds, Molly incredulously says, "Oh it can't be - she's speaking a language that no one's spoken in hundreds of years!" Seriously?  So are you!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People (1963)

Apparently this is a good movie with a lot of underlying social commentary. But I seem to have stumbled upon the badly dubbed US version.

While on a cruise, a problem with the yacht leaves the group stranded on an island.  There is the skipper, a professor, a starlet, a girl next door type, Gilligan, and two more.  Well, his name isn't really named Gilligan but he does have the same hat and red shirt, the boat had five passengers and two crew members, plus the characters are almost the same.

The group finds an abandoned ship covered in fungus. Actually fungus is all over the island.  They decide to clean off the ship and use it as shelter until they either figure out how to fix the boat or are  rescued.

There is no fresh food so they decide to eat something they found on the fungus ship.  In the ships journal, there is a warning not to eat the mushrooms.  But eventually they succumb to hunger, even though it's obvious that something is terribly wrong, hence the lack of living beings on the fungus ship and the warnings in the journal.

The group starts fighting and people who eat the mushrooms start going nutzo.  The starlet gets one guy  to eat mushrooms. He sees flashy, flashy mushroom lights and various hallucinations.  Everyone eating mushrooms starts going insane.  However I must point out that I found this movie to be severely lacking in mushroom people.  I guess from the title I was expecting a huge group of mushroom people to attack, but it was not to be.

Best badly dubbed lines -

"I hire people to think for me and then I just use their thoughts."

"If I was really in love with her I should have eaten the mushroom."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Deadly Species (2002)

After Professor Thomas's grant falls through, he receives a call from rich amateur cryptozoologist Wilson Friels, with an offer to pay for his research trip.  Thomas excitedly accepts the offer without asking anything about the terms or conditions of the endowment.

On the day Thomas and his assistants are preparing to leave, Wilson and an assistant show up at the launch site and inform Thomas they'll be traveling with him.  Luckily there is still room in the raft for two extra people. Even though Wilson and his assistant don't bring any food, water, or supplies, the group doesn't seem worried about the practicalities.

Thomas is researching an Everglade Indian tribe rumored to exist, although no one has seen them in over 400 years.  It's a twenty mile hike to their last known settlement.  Oh yeah, I'm sure the topography could have changed much in the past 400 years.

While they make camp, Thomas's team works on finding the Caloosa and their settlement which is rumored to be the Gates of Hell.  On the other hand, Wilson sneakily looks for the secret fountain of youth rumored to be inside the same area. Nope, nothing could go wrong with this plan.

Typical cliched mediocre movie ending with bad guy getting his comeuppance and the good guy imparting a lesson he's learned about respecting the environment, old customs, and magical mystical things that are free from all of todays evils and that we will never truly understand.